Monday, November 25, 2013

Statistics on Unaffordable Care Act Applications

Kaiser Family Foundation has a table of statistics from the various states show how many people applied for insurance through the various exchanges, how many applied for Medicaid, and so on.  What is pretty astonishing is how few people actually signed up in the first month (or more, for some states), considering that there was supposedly a major crisis of uninsured people in the U.S., and the presumed urgency of the need for health insurance.  In the whole country: 202,942 selected one of the market place plans, and 510,586 where "Determined or Assessed Eligible for Medicaid/CHIP."  As a percentage of the U.S. population, these are .06% and 0.16% of the population.  This raises one of several possibilities:

1. Demand is huge and really screwed up -- but this seems to include phone and paper signups as well.

2. There are far fewer people who are uninsured than popular media and common sense suggests.

3. Many of these uninsured Americans are not spectacularly concerned about getting health insurance.

4. Many of these uninsured Americans are illegal aliens, and thus ineligible.


  1. At least from what's been described, the federal exchanges and many states were not able to process phone or paper signups, since they were dependent on the same electronic systems as everyone else internally.

    The progressive estimates for demand were still almost certainly overstated by a massive and obvious amount, though. Probably not as much as rational economic theory would suggest -- a lot of young folk and especially young women are much risk-averse than you'd expect, for some rather complicated reasons -- but even the CBO estimates were required to be based on some unrealistic assumptions.

  2. I remember being young and unemployed and refusing COBRA coverage, because it would be $100/month, which is a lot when UI pays $330/week. When I decided to work as an independent contractor, I did the same - I was making decent money, but health insurance seemed too expensive given the costs of rent, auto insurance, etc.

    That was a while ago, but health insurance through a COBRA (so you keep your former employer's group rate) is a lot more these days, and UI only maxes out around $400/week.

  3. COBRA from my current employer is about $1200 a month for two middle aged adults. Even for young people, it is very pricey.

    I know someone who makes almost nothing because he is a recent college graduate, and his subsidized insurance through the exchange is pretty trivial -- but still a big chunk of money for someone who can't get a full-time job.